How to Market to Gen Z

How is marketing to Gen Z different from communicating with other generations? Let's break down how they're unique.

Everyone’s talking about how to market to millennials, and for a good reason. They make up a huge piece of the market share. However, we’d all be wise not to forget about Gen Z and their spending power of roughly $143 billion. Depending on who you ask, someone who is Gen Z was born anytime between 1996 and the early-mid 2000s (approximately). If you guessed that marketing to this generation is going to have its own unique quirks, you guessed correctly! Let’s get into how to market to Gen Z and help get your brand in front of this younger audience.

5 Tips for How to Market to Gen Z

1. Lean into User-Generated Content (UGC)

According to one study by The National Retail Federation, Gen Z cares tremendously about authenticity. This means that marketing tactics that worked on older generations might not work on Gen Z.

Enter: User-generated content.

User-generated content is exactly what it sounds like: content (usually social media posts) that your customers create to share about their experience with your brand. This practically screams authenticity.

Let’s say you have a food truck. Someone visits and purchases one of your street tacos. They then post a photo of your food on Instagram, tag you, and check into the location. This is user-generated content, and you can use it to ultimately increase your food truck sales!

two people eating outside food truck

The reason UGC is so powerful is that it’s basically like that individual is personally recommending your business. And others are going to trust them far more than they’re going to trust you. (This is totally normal.)

Anytime you see someone posting about your business online, share it on your own pages! To be safe, ask them for permission first.

You can encourage UGC by posting on social media and emailing your list. Tell them to tag you and even suggest a branded hashtag they can use, like #TonysTacoTruck. If you really want to sweeten the deal, offer them something in return. “Tag us and check in and we’ll give you 20% off your next order!”

2. Go Where Gen Z Is

The top three platforms for Gen Z are Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. If you want to know how to market to Gen Z, instead of trying to get them to come to you, you should go to them!

two Gen Z women using TikTok

On Instagram, test out various types of content, including feed posts, videos, Stories, and especially Reels (which the platform is currently giving a big push). For any video content, experiment with the length.

YouTube presents a great opportunity for Gen Z to really get to know you. Play around with demos, tutorials, how-tos, customer reviews, and so on. Try short-form content (maybe three to five minutes) and compare it to something five minutes or longer.

You probably don’t need us to tell you that TikTok is on fire, and Gen Z loves it. You will likely find that 15-seconds-or-less Toks will perform the best, but you won’t know until you test it out.

We know it might feel like you’re spreading yourself too thin. If you notice that one platform is performing better than another, double down on it and shelve the other for now!

3. Give Them a Seamless, Speedy Shopping Experience

We have to remember that unlike previous generations, Gen Z might not really remember what life was like before social media and online shopping. According to research, more than ⅔ want to purchase directly from social media. 24% prefer to shop online, 13% via mobile. Thus, we have to cater to their digital world. 

Is your website beautifully optimized for mobile? Check right now! Do the text and images resize for your smaller smartphone screen? Does everything load quickly? Are buttons easy to click? Run through a test purchase and see what the experience is like from start to finish.

Do the same for your website on desktop, as well. A good rule of thumb is to allow people to purchase in as few clicks as possible. Go through the buying process and actually count the number of clicks it takes. Can you reduce this number? If you’re asking for information or requiring steps that aren’t totally necessary, delete them! Make it as smooth and painless as possible for your website visitors to shop with you.

Specifically, look at the checkout process. Are you offering people different payment options? Have you worked in a loyalty or rewards program? Your POS system should be able to do all of this for you.

4. Invite Gen Z to Be Part of the Marketing

Gen Z doesn’t just want you to sell to them. They want to be part of the experience. Anything you can do to include them will likely pay off.

Try running social media polls. Ask people for their thoughts, opinions, and ideas. As they respond, share their input! Go live on Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram and share the screen with a customer. For example, if you’re a yoga brand, you might bring a customer on live and talk about their favorite asanas and how the practice has benefitted them.

Share customer stories about how your brand has made people’s lives better. Include pictures and videos (with their permission) to really bring the story to life.

This will look different for every brand, but the point is this: Don’t talk to Gen Z. Talk with them.

5. Take a Stand for What Matters

With each generation has come an increasing concern for the bigger things in life.

For instance, Pew Research found that Gen Z cares immensely about climate change. 76% of respondents said that it’s one of their biggest societal concerns. 37% said it’s their top concern. Knowing this, you might make an effort at reducing your brand’s waste and sharing with your Gen Z audience how you’re trying to contribute to a better planet earth. 

Or, you could find a cause close to your heart and donate a percentage of every sale to that cause. Shoppers love knowing that their money is going toward something bigger than what they bought.

Learning how to market to Gen Z largely comes down to honesty, transparency, and authenticity. They want a real, organic experience. They want to feel something. Toss out your old-school marketing methods and try the five tips we covered in this blog. Good luck!

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